Government Shutdown: The Ridiculous Republican Spectacle Is Over, For Now, We Hope

Of course, until the House votes on it, you really can’t say anything is over. But it appears the ridiculous Republican spectacle, which shut down the government and brought the United States within hours of default, will finally end tonight. The Senate is voting right now, the House is supposed to vote later this evening. And what did Republicans get for shutting down the government? Nothing. Well, other than a ding to their poll numbers.

The “deal” they are voting on will open the government until January 15, 2014 and extend the debt ceiling until February 7. So yes, we might find ourselves in this same situation again in only a few months. The deal that they are voting on tonight is something that could have been done weeks, even months ago. Republicans accomplished nothing. The Affordable Care Act still stands, and it will remain standing regardless of future juvenile tactics. It is the law, it is not going anywhere.

Just this week we learned Fitch might downgrade the U.S. credit rating from AAA, just the same as Standard & Poor’s did back in the summer of 2011, the last time Republicans threatened a credit default to get their way. Fitch Ratings said there was an increased risk of default which is why they put the U.S. credit rating on “rating watch negative,” citing “political brinkmanship” as the reason. Even with the deal to avoid default, Fitch could still downgrade the U.S. credit rating sometime between now and the end of first quarter in 2014.

And I’m sure, just as in 2011, there are Republicans citing Fitch’s downgrade threat as proof the United States has too much debt. And Republicans who say this would be just as wrong as Republicans who said this of the Standard & Poor’s downgrade in 2011.

The AAA Credit Rating Lie: Is Obama Responsible for the S&P Downgrade? — We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process. – Standard & Poor’s

While Standard & Poor’s did cite “growth in public spending” it was tied directly to “controversy” over raising the debt ceiling to pay for that spending growth. The point is this. Neither of these ratings agencies signaled they were concerned about the level of U.S. debt until the threat of defaulting on that debt became a real possibility. And that threat is not because the debt is too high, but because of Tea Party extremists who think default would be a healthy step for the country. They really are that vindictive, ignorant, or both.

And next time you hear a conservative say the U.S. is bankrupt or heading for bankruptcy or that the downgrade is because there’s too much debt, you can say “bullshit.” Then you can tell your conservative friend that the United States (at least as long as the dollar is the reserve currency of the world) cannot go bankrupt. As long as people trust the U.S. Treasury to pay it’s obligations, people will continue to invest in U.S. securities.

The United States cannot become insolvent, that is, unless a group of extreme right-wing radicals refuse to raise the debt ceiling. The United States is the sole producer of the dollar. It has a monopoly on the “manufacture” and distribution of the dollar. That means the U.S. government simply cannot go bankrupt. It cannot run out of money like you or I. That does not mean we should print money with no limits, but it does mean the U.S. government always has the means to pay the bills. The U.S. should never default on it’s obligations. So I say it again, the only way that happens, is if people who hate government — Republicans — allow it to happen.

Capitol building government shutdown

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